Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Drawing Snow in The Winter Landscape, Part 2

On to the drawing

Quick review: I am working on a winter landscape, based on a reference photo located at:
on the about.com - drawing/sketching site

now, back to the drawing.

Once the paper selection is made, you also have to decide on scale. Are you going to draw this size for size, increase or decrease the size? For this drawing, I am simply going to draw it about the same size as the reference photo, in the same long, narrow portrait mode.

Tick Marks as guides

Have you ever drawn someone, but on nearing completion, realized you don't have enough room for the top of the head? First thing I do is simply lay out the area on the paper I wish to put the drawing in. A little forethought avoids running out of room for your drawing.

I generally use faint guidelines or tick marks, as they are called to simply indicate the outside dimensions of the piece I am doing. These are most easily set by using your harder pencils very sharp and a straight edge. This helps to keep the artwork within the lines. There is a lot of talk about "drawing outside of the box", but you should leave yourself a margin in your drawings and other artwork. Gives you something to tape the mat to! All in all, guidelines help you keep the work on track.

Back to the actual drawing.

There are several challenges in doing a winter landscape. You have to making the show look real, dealing with the subtle and necessary value shifts and working for the soft texture you need to make the snow look nice and fluffy. So often it is not a mater of drawing the shapes, but shading in everything around it. Dealing with the negative shapes, which in this case are white or near white. One of the biggest challenges is finding your darks, and not being afraid of them. Shadows and shading are all important.

adding graphite
Light Source

The brighter the day, the darker the darks, even on snow. Keep this in mind. As the artist, you must be sure of the light source, where it is from and how strong it is. You can take this form the photo, or add it yourself. It is up to you, but it must be clear in your mind.

You as the artist must be sure of your light source. This is especially important if the photo reference you are using is unclear or confusing on this subject. You must be sure. If the artist is confused, the work will be confused. Now, on this project I have a slight advantage, as these are my photographs, and I remember the conditions when I took these pictures.

Snow Day,

It was a snowy day in early March, one of those deep spring snowfalls that bring such a soft blanket of snow to the area. We had had a real storm, with thunder and lightning thrown in with the heavy snow cover. But the day these photos where taken had been a rather bright, sunny day so there are nice shadows and contrasts.

When this photo was taken, the sun was beginning to lower in the west, but the shadows were not yet very long. Keeping this in mind, I know the sun would be to the right on this drawing, so things sloping away from there would be in shadow.

lightening the lines
 Cast Shadows and Contour

There are two types of shadow or shading going on here, the cast shadows from the sun and the contour shading you get with any 3-dimensional object, like the columns of the trees. Both are necessary to work this drawing. Since in this photo reference the trees now become the focal point, handling both shadows is very important.

first view
Working the shadows

There are two ways to deal with these shadows. You can use softer pencils and rework these shapes, and you can use blending tools, like a stump or tortillion. Many blending tools are possible for any drawing. I tend to favor the judicious use of kneaded erasers. This seems to work especially well on snow scenes. Sometimes it is just as important to remove graphite, as it is to apply it.

 Switching back and forth with my B pencils, I block in the major shapes, then start working details, lighting backgrounds to get the overall gray scale of the Black and White photo. I find working on the whole picture easier than doing any one area completely, then moving on. By working with the entire drawing, I am able to adjust the level of detail and maintain overall values. I do not end up with a drawing that is a monotone of a single value, or overly detailed in all areas. I also use the kneaded eraser to modify my drawings.

Stepping back, I make an overall evaluation of the drawing to see if it gives off the feeling I want.

I can then make any adjustments needed to bring out the focus of the drawing. I make use of all my drawing tools. Pencils, stumps, paper towels, chamois. I also use my 100% graphite pencils. These lay down wide swatches of graphite very well.

Drawing of 3 trees.
But I also use the stump to draw. Laying down a circle of graphite on a piece of scrap paper, I rub the stump across it until I get enough graphite on the stump to transfer to the white paper. This way I can get very faint amounts of shading that allow me to build up the character of the snow and bank of this frozen creek.

This was a very satifiing drawing, but not the only way to handle this subject.

While this is almost a copy of the photograph, blind copying should not be your ultimate goal, but producing creative artwork should. But feel free to tell me what you think.

I am going to do another version of this scene. Something a bit different and hopefully more creative. It is and should be your goal to go beyond the reference photo.

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